Perspective Online

COAH Students Win Prestigious Study Abroad Scholarships

by Dr. Meg Pearson

The College of Arts and Humanities applauds two of its students for receiving the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, a prestigious national award sponsored by the State Department for undergraduates embarking on an immersive study abroad experience. This past year, three University of West Georgia students were awarded this honor, two of them from COAH: Taylor McAnally, an English major, immersed herself in the French language in Tours, France, during the Maymester; and LaFaydra Ellison, a Spanish minor, traveled to Heredia, Costa Rica, with the Spanish Immersion Program. Both study abroad trips are long-running programs organized and led by COAH’s Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.

COAH Students Win Prestigious Study Abroad Scholarships These students’ reasons for studying abroad reflect the diverse passions frequently found in the College of Arts and Humanities as faculty and students work together to learn about the ever-changing, complex society in which we live. Taylor McAnally, an accomplished student in the English department, had dreams of seeing France. She shared in her Study Abroad Story that “Tours, France, is the post-card city that I thought it would be.” In Tours McAnally participated in an interdisciplinary range of classes including French literature, language, science, economics, and art at the Institut de Touraine when she wasn’t “lounging around in one of the city’s lush parks, a copy of Harry Potter à L'École des Sorciers and a French dictionary spread open on my lap, while my hands snapped pictures of French fauna with my camera,” she confessed happily.

Likewise, LaFaydra Ellison was seeking international language experience but gained a great deal more. She asserted in her Study Abroad Story that while “language courses helped to improve my language skills and my knowledge of Hispanic culture . . . . [t]here is nothing like learning about a culture while being able to experience it firsthand.” LaFaydra recalled trips to volcanos and beaches in Central America, but the most important part of her travel was interacting with the people of Costa Rica, whether in her host family’s home or while playing soccer with local children.

Students like Taylor and LaFaydra are not just studying literature or biology and going through the motions of learning a language; they are broadening their worldview and challenging themselves to join the larger global community in a concrete manner. Diverse and challenging experiences such as study abroad, like a degree in the humanities, help students to gain the kinds of so-called “soft-skills” most prized by employers: effective interpersonal communication and problem-solving.

These students’ experiences would not have been possible without the assistance of the Gilman Program and the work of the International Services and Programs Department at UWG. The Gilman Scholarship Program offers awards for undergraduate study abroad and was established by the International Academic Opportunity Act of 2000. This scholarship provides awards for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university to participate in study and intern abroad programs worldwide.

Dr. Meg Pearson is the chair of the department of English and philosophy.

Share this story!

FacebooktwitterLinkedInYouTubePinterestInstagram Give WestUniversity of West Georgia